Better Know a Skeptics: 10 Questions for Nick Sirman
“Better Know a Skeptic” is a series of articles introducing the members of the Ottawa skeptics by asking ten questions.
Name: Nick Sirman
Screen name: NickSirman (wasn’t terribly creative there I know)
Member Since: Day 1
Chosen quote: “If you want to be the next Galileo, its not enough to be persecuted, you also have to be right.”
1) Briefly describe yourself. What do you do for a living, etc.
I am a 28 year old Ottawa dweller. most of my background is in computer support and construction. I am currently working for inventory services firm while looking for other work.
2) Why are you a “skeptic”? Was there a “wow” moment?
What originally got me interested in this movement was flipping channels one night and catching an episode of Penn&Teller’s bullshit a few years ago. That taught me that there were other people that thought like me on various issues. It led me to Randi.org, which taught me there were even more people like that around, and some of them even had groups. It also led me to the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, which taught me there were people who thought the same way I did about god.
3) What are your hobbies/interests?
I am a lifelong gamer. I love games like world of warcraft. starcraft, the warcraft series, command and conquer, Ninja gaiden, and ill play just about anything. In terms of non-computer games I also play dungeons and dragons, magic the gathering, and have played several others over the years including warlord, 7th sea, L5R and others.
4) What are you passionate about at the moment?
Anything where a lack of critical thinking causes serious harm, such as loss of money, health or death to alot of people. That basically includes faith healing, alt-med or anyone else who’s business plan is “find someone desperate and take em for all their worth”. I’m also a bit of a geek for creationists – watching them and seeing what their going to try next.
5) Do you have a hero? Why him/her?
I could name all the usual people here, James Randi, Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Penn&Teller, Michael Shermer, Eugenie Scott, Phil Plait, PZ Meyers, Laurence Krauss, Paul Kurtz, the guy who writes the planetologist blog (I cant remember and the name doesn’t appear to be listed on the site), but I dont really have a hero. All of them have done and continue to do great work. I don’t always agree with them, but I dont expect to. Instead I think I’ll just say “any doctor that saves the life of someone, and any scientist who helps in our understanding of anything or makes our lives easier is my hero.”
6) If you could have dinner with 5 people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Well first I would want live people, as dead ones are so untalkative, tho maybe 1 dead one since they dont tend to complain if we leave them with the bill.
As a more serious answer, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Bertrand Russel, Abraham and Moses of the old testament – that would make for some interesting dinner conversations.
7) Do you have a favourite: album, musician, sports team, movie, TV show, book? (Feel free to list one, some, or all.)
Album – no
Musician – no
Sports team – not really
Movie – Hmm, randomly glancing at the wall of dvd’s beside me: Dark Knight, Kill Bill, Flock of Dodo’s, Monty Python’s life of Brian and Holy grail, Robin hood: men in tights, spaceballs, star wars 4-6,
TV show- – mythbusters, Stargate SG1, Babylon 5, Married… with Children, the Simpsons, Mystery Science theater 3000, firefly, Animaniacs
Book – “Demon Haunted World” by Carl Sagan – this should be required reading to graduate high school
“Flim Flam” and “The Faith Healers” by James Randi
“The god Delusion” by Richard Dawkins
“god is not great” by Christoper Hitchens
“Risk” by Dan Gardner
“the munchkin’s guide to powergaming” by Steve Jackson games
“Order of the stick” series by Rich Burlew – especially “start of darkness”
Video games – World of warcraft, Civilization, Alpha Centauri, Masters of Orion 2, Warcraft 2-3, Starcraft, Ninja Gaiden
8) What grinds your gears?
People who don’t want to learn or can’t be bothered learning. To not know something and be willing to learn is fine, to not want to learn is dangerous. To declare you already know something and have it on faith is even worse.
9) Tell me something I don’t know about you.
I once spent 2 weeks living in the high arctic to visit friends up there.
10) Why are we here?
Well, where else would we be? Isn’t it enough to be here anyway without needing to invent a purpose?
Individually we are each here because our parents had sex. As a species we are here because of Abiogenesis forming complex chemical reactions that eventually formed the first living replicators, which eventually led to the first cells, which where then acted on by unguided natural selection, which over billions of years evolved into multicelled life, then eventually sexually reproducing multicelled life, then one branch eventually split off and evolved into an ape smart enough to ask loaded questions like “why are we here?”. Eventually certain members of that species had sex (see answer above).